While embarking on a quick overview of current print prices from the majors this week, I was struck (yet again) by the close working relationship between Fujifilm and its two major customers, Harvey Norman and Big W.
It would not be going to far to say that, for all intents and purposes, Harvey Norman’s Photo Centre website appears to be a facade – perhaps a ‘skin’ would be more up-to-date term – behind which Fujifilm is running the operation.
The first indication that the relationship between Fujifilm and both the Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online and Big W Photos photo service businesses is beyond a conventional supplier/customer arrangement is that Fujifilm claims copyright and cites its own ABN on the Harvey Norman PhotoCentre and Big W Photos homepages.
But when we go to the fine print – the detail in which the devil is said to reside – it’s decidedly difficult to see Big W or Harvey Norman as the upfront service providor.
Here’s an excerpt from the Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online Terms and Conditions:
The Service [defined elsewhere as the ‘Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online service’] consists of two parts. One part contains information about products, including prices and promotions, and offers made by us, which part is published by us utilising materials provided by us or our third parties. (Our bold): The other part allows you to place orders for product and make payment, and is maintained and hosted by FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd (“FUJIFILM Australia”) by utilising software (“Software”) licensed to it by Whitech Pty Ltd and materials provided to them by us or our third parties.
(Most readers will be aware that Fujifilm owns Whitech Pty Ltd, and that Whitech’s Imagine internet-based fulfilment software is the platform for both Harvey’s and Big W’s online photo retailing.)
Who’s ‘we’ Harvey?
But even the ‘Us’ referred to above isn’t Harvey Norman, but a third party to whom Harvey Norman has franchised the marketing aspects of the Harvey Norman PhotoCentre online operation.
This third party is a company called Beauforda Pty Ltd. It’s an ‘exempt proprietary company’ according to ASIC – that is, it is exempt from lodging annual reports with ASIC, and it hasn’t done so since 2002.
In the Terms & Conditions, Beauforda is described thus:
The enterprise carrying on business at www.harveynormanphotos.com.au (“Website”) under the name or style including the words “Harvey Norman” and “Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online” is operated by Beauforda Pty Ltd ACN 003 903 991 (referred to as “our”, “us” and “we”), pursuant to a franchise granted by Harvey Norman Holdings Limited or its related bodies corporate (“Harvey Norman”) and a license granted by Harvey Norman or its related bodies corporate to trade as “Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online”.
Beauforda is a $2 shelf company, the current director and secretary of which is a Magesh Pather, formerly of South Africa, and currently residing at Beauforda’s current registered address in Thirroul, NSW.
He has been in this role for about a year. Previous directors include Neil Burgess, Matthew Semple, and Francis Robinson. Information on these people is scarce. A search of Google and LinkedIn indicated that Neil Burgess is a long-time Harvey Norman franchisee (currently in Queensland), but sheds no light on the other former directors.
It’s worth noting that Ben McIntosh, the executive responsible for HN PhotoCentres, is not a director of Beauforda, nor does it seem from ASIC documents that there are any other senior HN executives involved in this ‘franchise’.
An ABN lookup on the ASIC website shows the trading name of the Beauforda No 2 Trust as ‘Harvey Norman SuperStore Auburn’.
So…Harvey Norman has franchised the marketing aspects of the Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online business to an entity with the trading name of Harvey Norman SuperStore Auburn, with Fujifilm responsible for all the operational aspects – the direct customer interface including all customer service, the development and maintenance of the website, arranging the production of photo products, and critically, the collection of money from customers.
Presumably there is some arrangement by which the revenues are divided between Fujifilm and Harvey Norman aka Beauforda. Does Fujifilm pay Harvey Norman a fee for its marketing resources? Does Harvey Norman pay Fujifilm for running the website and supplying finished product? Are profits shared to some agreed formula? Whatever the case, Harvey Norman PhotoCentre Online seem closer to a formal business partnership than a normal customer-suppplier arrangement.
In this set-up, Fujifilm would need to be aware of price promotions by Harvey Norman and Big W well in advance of their launch to be able to handle the supply chain – given, for instance, that 9 cent print deals burn a lot of extra Fujifilm paper and chem.
When it comes to Big W, the arrangements with Fujifilm are close, but don’t seem so convoluted. There are no shelf companies in the mix for a start!
But, once again, it seems that Fujifilm is involved in running the show with the Big W shingle as a figleaf. For instance this is the introduction to the Big W Photos Terms and Conditions:
Welcome to the BIG W Photos internet service (“Service”) provided to you by FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd, ABN 80 000 064 433 of 114 Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale, New South Wales, Australia.
– Certainly doesn’t pull any punches about who is delivering the Big W Photo service!
And the Big W Photos Privacy section actually takes you to the Fujifilm website:
And the Definitions section makes it quite clear that Fujifilm is no mere an agent of the Big W Photos website:
In these Terms and Conditions the following expressions shall have the following meanings unless otherwise stated:-
– “Agents and Contractors” means any agents, contractors and sub-contractors of FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd;
– “Employees” means any employees, directors and officers of FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd;
– “We” or “us” or “our” means FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd.